We are in Hilversum, the Dutch city of image and sound. In this case we come for sound, personal sound, or head-fi. Headphones, then. At Beter Beeld & Geluid we see an impressive collection of headphones and amplifiers. About a year ago, Björn en Garmt started an extensive collection of headphones and headphone amplifiers. “The customers who come for headphones are almost all new customers. A new audience, not looking for an audio system with speakers, amplifiers and peripherals. They take personal audio seriously and want a set with which they can achieve at least as much detail, emotion and music enjoyment as a traditional audio installation”
According to Garmt, with a good head-fi set it is possible to achieve the sound quality of a regular audio set-with amplifier and speakers for 10% of the price. To make it concrete: “Our top-line headphones and amplifiers are as good as the Grimm LS1be which costs about 36,000 euros. And this Grimm set is for what it offers and this class a bang for the buck. A system with separate components of the same quality is easy to double over the counter”
From the offer we choose twelve headphones in three price categories: between 400 and 750 euros, around 1,000 euros, and between 3,000 and 3,500 euros. We listen to it on the same headphone amplifier; the Questyle CMA 800i with two outputs, so we can listen at the same time. We use the cables supplied as standard. In all cases these are 6.35 or 3.5 mm jackplugs. No balanced cables, no cables from other brands. As source we used a Melco Audio server-streamer and storage solution.
We slide the sofa in the listening room forward until we sit about 1 meter from the audio furniture. It’s a bit bizarre, but it’s so practical… We put the Harbeth speakers aside and set up the twelve headphones as a stage at the Olympics. After listening to a set of four, we go to the home cinema of Beter Beeld & Geluid (Better Sound and Vision), which serves as a measurement room for the occasion. This room is very well insulated and acoustically treated. Our well-known measuring setup with the Illusonic IAP8 and the measuring head Henriette also travelled with us to Hilversum. Cozy!